The Major League Baseball hot stove has cooled off considerably since all the chaos of the winter meetings three weeks ago. But things will pick back up after the first of the year, and one of the biggest prizes left on the market is Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Technically, Cespedes has not been declared a free agent yet. There was a delay with him establishing residency in the Dominican Republic, but according to a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes, he should be ready to sign with any team in early January.
And with his free agency rapidly approaching, the teams that have the strongest interest in him, and are willing to pay the supposed $50-60 million it will take to get a deal done, are starting to become more clear.
The New York Yankees and Florida Marlins have been linked to Cespedes throughout this process, and both are willing to spend money, but Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wrote that the Yankees will not be as involved in the process as originally thought.
He also said that there is a divide in the Marlins' front office about him and that could push them away from the bidding war, and Cespedes may not be anxious to sign with them if they do make an offer.
People familiar with the international market say that there is also a divide on Cespedes in the Marlins' front office, and that it's not a given that the team will go after him hard. Also, Cespedes has told people that he plans to make his permanent home in the Dominican Republic, rather than in Miami, and may prefer to go to a team other than the Marlins.
But in a different report, MLB analyst Danny Knobler said that Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen and owner Jeffrey Loria were all over his workout in mid-December.
It makes perfect sense that the Marlins would want Cespedes. He would be easy to market in Miami given his Cuban heritage, and the team has proven this offseason that it is not afraid to spend money. How wisely they are spending is another story, but the point is that they have opened their wallets.
There is going to be a lot of talk about Cespedes and teams that may or may not have interest in signing him at the price that he wants, but the Marlins are the most logical choice. So any speculation that they may not make a bid on him should not be taken seriously until he signs somewhere else.
And does anyone really think that if the Marlins offer Cespedes more money than any other team that he is going to turn it down?